Apricots cannot be trusted. They lie! The sooner I accept this fact of life the sooner I can move on and not spend my summers in a haze of disappointment and regrets. They look so ripe and inviting, but how often do they deliver on their promise?
I still buy them in expectation of this punnet having the perfect apricot. But because I have been fooled so many times I now buy an extra bag of sugar as well, so I can at least make some jam from the punnet of falsehood.
Here is a nice way of using some of the under-sweet apricots that cheat their way into your home. This is a 'Coffee Cake', a rather old fashioned notion of a cake served with a mid-morning cup of coffee, but usually with no actual coffee in it. How quaint! The bottom of the cake is nicely dense, its sweetness works nicely against the tart apricots, and the top of the cake is deliciously moist, from the fruit and the jammy topping. It can also be made with other kinds of tart, not overly juicy fruit, such as halved plums, pink rhubarb chunks or apple slices... It is wonderfully versatile.
190 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
150 g white sugar
30 g butter
160 ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
310 g pitted and diced fresh apricots
1/2 tsp mixed spice, or to taste
2 tbsp white sugar
Apricot glaze and a drizzle of icing to serve.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream together the sugar, egg, and butter until smooth. Stir the buttermilk and vanilla into the batter. Pour the batter into the flour and beat until smooth.
Spread the batter into a greased 8 inch square pan, and sprinkle the diced apricots evenly over the top. Dust with spice and sugar. I made mine in a ring tin because it amuses the children and put the fruit at the bottom of the sponge mixture, it is a very forgiving mixture and will work either way.
Bake in the preheated oven approximately 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
I make a jam from any apricots left over (and the aforementioned extra bag of sugar). Stone the fruit and weigh, then boil with the same quantity of sugar. Sieve the resulting jam and glaze the top of your cake with it. You will most likely have extra apricot jam so pot it up in a sterilised jar and store in the fridge. You can use it to glaze fruit tarts and cupcakes, etc. or just spread on buttery toast or a scone. Drizzle your cake with a little icing sugar mixed with a drop of water or lemon juice and serve.